The Crown wants nearly two years in prison for an alleged Kamloops gangster who was in charge of keeping cash for a gang-related drug-trafficking network.
Brandon Chappell, 32, has pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of property obtained by crime and a lone count of possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking.
A sentencing hearing began in B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Court heard Chappell kept the books and cash for a Red Scorpions drug-running ring, allegedly helmed by Konaam Shirzad, Erwin Dagle and Nathan Townsend.
Shirzad, one of the founders of the Red Scorpions gang, was shot to death outside his Guerin Creek home in 2017 while the investigation was ongoing.
Dagle was sentenced last year to 10 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to seven drug charges.
Townsend has been behind bars since October, one of five men charged with murder in connection with the 2018 death of Troy Gold, whose remains were found in the Lac de Bois area north of Batchelor Heights in the fall of that year.
Townsend was denied bail last month.
Crown prosecutor Anthony Varesi said Chappell was busted with $164,000 in cash, spanning three separate incidents. Police also seized $8,000 worth of MDMA (known as ecstasy or molly) from his Sahali home during a raid.
Varesi said Chappell came to the attention of police in 2016 through informant information. He was placed under surveillance between October 2016 and January 2017.
During that time, Varesi said, police saw Chappell associating with Shirzad, Dagle and Townsend. They also searched his garbage on five occasions, turning up small amounts of cocaine and trafficking ledgers showing transactions with low-level dealers for cocaine, meth and heroin in amounts of up to 1.4 kilograms.
On Dec. 1, 2016, police saw a man leave Chappell’s house with a duffel bag. The man drove to Merritt, where he was pulled over and arrested.
In his vehicle, Mounties found more than $90,000. Some of the cash was in bags marked “briefs” and “shirts” — slang terms for meth and cocaine. Chappell’s fingerprints were found on at least two of the bags.
“It’s clear the cash had come from Mr. Chappell,” Varesi said.
Chappell was arrested on Jan. 13, 2017, after police obtained a warrant to search his house.
Inside, investigators found more than $23,000 in cash and eight ounces of MDMA, as well as a 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition and body armour.
On Chappell’s kitchen table, police found trafficking ledgers and a money counter.
Police obtained another warrant for Chappell’s house following a March 2017 traffic stop, in which Shirzad and Dagle were arrested with a suitcase containing nearly $6,000, apparently en route to meet Chappell.
The second search turned up a cardboard box containing $50,000.
“It’s troubling that after having his house searched and being arrested, he continues to be involved in having the proceeds of crime,” Varesi said, asking B.C. Supreme Court Justice Len Marchand to impose a sentence of 22 months in prison.
Defence lawyers Jeremy Jensen and Marshall Putnam have suggested a three-year period of probation and, a potential 90-day jail sentence, noting Chappell’s lack of a previous criminal record and his behaviour since his arrest.
“He has removed himself from the criminal lifestyle,” Jensen said, noting Chappell has been undergoing counselling since his arrest.
Court heard Chappell had a tumultuous childhood and quit school at the age of 15. He worked various construction jobs before landing a plumbing apprenticeship in Kamloops.
“There’s a downturn in the oil patch and Mr. Chappell is laid off,” Jensen said, noting Chappell became involved in the drug trade after meeting gang associates through his fitness regimen.
“He got involved because it offered him money and a sense of belonging. He was not a leader in this organization — he was a bag man, of sorts,” Jensen said, describing Chappell’s home as “a stash house” for the drug traffickers. “That said, he accepts he was a trusted member of the organization.”
Jensen said a lengthy period of incarceration could result in Chappell returning to a life of crime.
“Mr. Chappell is a good man. His life was unfolding as it should, but he hit a rough patch,” Jensen said. “He has completely turned his life around.”
Marchand is expected to deliver his sentence on March 13.